Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Exercising the Muscle

“You will never gain success unless you love what you are doing.” 
- Dale Carnegie

As the end of my own self imposed writing challenge is approaching, an interesting thing has happened. That “thing” hit me somewhere today just before the 4 mile mark of my run. With the bitingwind blowing straight into my face, and as I struggled to hear a BBC podcast about Henry David Thoreau, it hit me, I love writing. It’s that kind of declaration that is made in silence because you know if you were to scream it out loud that people would turn an look at you with that odd tilt to their head like “what’s wrong with him?”. Then again, I could have done that since it was still dark out and I was the only one on the road out running.

Long before I became a runner, I wrote. I wrote stories as a youth about a character that I called “Super Cop” and remember painstakingly typing them out on an old borrowed typewriter with ink that barely covered the paper. But just like any muscle, if not worked out often enough it atrophies and has no endurance. It becomes a frustrating cycle of starting and stopping because you can never quite get over that part where it becomes natural and free flowing.

In the past few days, as this daily blogging exercise has forced me to write to meet my own self imposed deadline, I have started to see that writing muscle grow once again. Similar to my daily runs, I have begun to feel that “flow” when writing. Proposed by Mihaly Czikzzentmihalyi “flow” is often referenced as a mental state of operation in which a person is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement and success in the process of the activity. Those short bursts of writing in the first few days of the writing challenge, slowly awakened those atrophied writing muscles. Setting the  timer initially at 5 or 10 minutes and storing at a blank piece of paper, was like looking at a training plan and seeing that you had to do a “long run” that was farther than you had ever gone before. In passing days, that writing muscle as I have taken it out and written has begun to grow stronger. It no longer seems like a chore.  Even the idea of getting to 262 words daily, which yes, I admit that I check the word count in Pages, is like warming up during  the first mile of a run. The idea is to get the blood moving and the body loosened up with the idea of moving towards “flow”
Success in terms of writing right now is doing it every day. My challenge is over in 3 days, but I will still continue to write. My writing muscle is growing stronger and with it my love for doing it. I am not saying that writing will be kicking running to the curb, but it had better be prepared to spoon.

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